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Full text of "Poland Russia and Great Britain 1941-1945"

and it was to become the predominant factor of the Russian policy
inside Britain. This state of afTairs was all the more extraordinary
when taking into consideration that the record of the British Com-
munist Partv* was well-known to the public. Furthermore, even during
this period of the Russo-British Alliance, the subterranean activity
of the Party was not in line with the interests of its own country. In
August and September, 1943, the headlines In the British Press had read :
" Watch kept on Communists," " Espionage sentence," " Wormed vital
secrets from girl clerk/5 (t Captain gave away secrets/3 and so forth.
While the organiser and member of the Central Committee of the British
Communist Party was found guilty of espionage and sentenced to seven
years' penal servitude* He was convicted cf obtaining secret information
in respect of the war " for a purpose prejudicial to the interests and safety
of the State5 information calculated to be useful to the enemy.33 He had
enveigled a girl clerk employed in the Air Ministry to pass on secret
information under the pretence that by so doing she would be helping
the Soviet Union.
The Daily Workeróa paper belonging to a Party with a reputation
such as this case revealedóbecame the main organ of the Russian anti-
Polish propaganda campaign to vilify the Polish Government, and to
endeavour to muzzle and destroy the independent Polish Press in Britain.*
During the eighteenth and the nineteenth century there were many
instances where the Russian Government had intervened outside their
own country, particularly in Paris^ regarding books printed by either
Polish emigrees or even by Frenchmen. One book written by the
Chevalier d'Eon about Russia was suppressed at the request of the Tsarina-,
Catherine the Second. It did not, therefore, seem remarkable to the
Poles that, in 1943, Russia should again endeavour to employ this
method against their Press in Britain3 in an attempt to compel it to cease
writing on the discovery of the Katyn murder. But it did seem incom-
prehensible to the Poles that., in a free country., pressure from Russia
should be able to achieve the considerable success accorded it in England.
* Hatred of the printed word is one of the characteristic features of Russian
despotism. In the Muscovy of the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries, knowledge
of reading was considered a sin. The clergy, in contrast to the clergy of Western
culture, was an instrument in the hands of the Tsar and the propagators, not of
culture but of ignorance, jealously guarding the art of reading for themselves.
This loathing of the printed word, particularly where it was in opposition to the
power of the Tsar, embraced their own territory and even reached abroad. The
Tsarist's Ambassadorj Puskin, sent in 1650, to Poland, gave a brilliant example of
this hatred. He came armed with the demand that certain books printed in
Poland and hostile to Muscovy, should be burnt and the authors flogged, impaled
and put to death. A demand which seemed alien to the Poles, who were at that
time printing books for all Europe.
The Polish Chancellor gave the following reply to the Moscow envoy : " The
King and we, neither order, nor forbid the printing of any book. Let the Tsar
print anything he wishes about Poland in his country and we shall not be offended
nor peace endangered on that account."
165